A private Christian school claimed an eight-year-old girl is in violation “Biblical values” by looking like a boy.
Eight-year-old Sunnie Kahle, who lives with her grandparents, had attended Timberlake Christian School in Forest, Virginia.
But grandparents Doris and Carroll Thompson were shocked after the school got in touch to complain about Sunnie’s appearance – because she looks “like a boy”.
The school’s letter claimed that Sunnie was “confusing” for other students, and claimed she was in violation of “biblical values”.
The letter says: “You’re probably aware that Timberlake Christian School is a religious, Bible believing institution providing education in a distinctly Christian environment.
“We believe that unless Sunnie as well as her family clearly understand that God has made her female and her dress and behaviour need to follow suit with her God-ordained identity, that TCS is not the best place for her future education.”
The couple – who say their granddaughter can look however she wants – were “shocked and appalled” by the letter, and opted to pull her out of the school.
The family initially tried to pursue legal action against the school, but were informed they would have little recourse against the private institution, due to weak equality laws.
Doris Thompson told WSET: “How do you tell a child when she wants to wear pants a shirt, and go out and play in the mud and so forth… how do you tell her ‘no you can’t, you’ve got to wear a pink bow in your hair, and you’ve got to let your hair grow out long’?
“How do you do that? I can’t do that!”
Mr Carroll Thompson added: “How do you label a child, eight years old, or discriminate against an eight year old child? It just don’t happen.”.
However, the family says the issue has been upsetting for all of them.
Doris added: “She cries every morning to get on the bus, she cries when she comes home because she wants to go back to Timberlake Christian with her friends.”
The school insists its actions were justified.
This story was originally published in March 2014